First-Time Emmy Nominee Melanie Lynskey On Her Starring Role In ‘Yellowjackets’: “Everybody Wants To Know About The Cannibalism”

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Melanie Lynskey admits that she used to roll her eyes when actors admitted to sleeping through big awards show nominations. But that’s exactly how the Yellowjackets star spent her morning before learning of her first Emmy nod for the hit Showtime drama.

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Lynskey couldn’t bear to watch the announcements, despite how she was considered a favorite going into Emmy season for playing the unfulfilled housewife Shauna. “I was so nervous. I honestly couldn’t face it. So Jason got up with our daughter and I did sleep through it,” she tells Deadline. “I just couldn’t be awake. I decided it would be nice to either wake up ‘cuz I was getting a lot of [phone messages] or just slowly wake up. right. So I woke up ‘cuz I was getting a lot of [phone messages]. So that was a nice way to wake up.”

Here, Lynskey talks about her role of the lifetime and how funny it is to be referred to as a breakout star when she’s been in the business since the early ’90s.

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DEADLINE: You’ve done so much press for Yellowjackets. What do people most want to know about Shauna?

MELANIE LYNSKEY: People just were asking me a lot about the Adam storyline as the season was going along.  Like, who is Adam? People seem very caught up in figuring all that out. Oh, and yeah, everybody wants to know about the cannibalism. Everybody wants to know who was in the different tribes. And I’m just like, I don’t have any of that information. You gotta keep watching. Please keep watching.

DEADLINE: Have you started production yet?

LYNSKEY: No, we go back in mid-August.

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DEADLINE: Why has Shauna resonated with so many people?

LYNSKEY: She just contains so many different things. She’s like an imperfect, messy, interesting, sexy, tired woman, like many of us. I think it is nice for people to feel like they see themselves represented on the screen. She’s a very familiar person to a lot of people. I mean, not everybody has a dark side like she has, but I think there’s also something satisfying about seeing somebody who kind of looks like yourself, getting to live out her rage.

DEADLINE: I’m surprised that you never got an Emmy nomination for your guest role as Rose the stalker on Two and a Half Men. She was such a fan favorite.

LYNSKEY: I never expected it but people were really into her. Sometimes on a taping night, Charlie Sheen and I would like cry in the middle of a scene because of the response we got from the audience. It was really moving to see how much people were into the story.

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DEADLINE: What was your very first role in television?

LYNSKEY: The Shield. I had just gotten my green card, so I couldn’t do episodic television for a very long time. I couldn’t even really do pilot season because it was so hard for me to figure out my work visa for such a long time. It would take a full month to get a visa. As soon as I got my green card, I started auditioning for episodic stuff and got two episodes of The Shield. It was a really, really fun part. She was this sort of quiet and mild mannered woman who was with this older controlling husband. And there was a body found in their bathtub and Dutch, the investigator was trying to keep her safe. And then it turned out that she was the mastermind and the actual murderer. She had him fooled and he had like a whole crisis about it.

DEADLINE: Everyone’s referred to you as the breakout of Yellowjackets, but you’ve been around for a long time. 

LYNSKEY Ten years ago I got nominated for a Gotham award as a breakthrough performer. And even then a decade ago, people were like, she’s been around forever! I think now at this point it’s extra funny, but it does feel different. I’ve felt very fortunate to be a working actor and to have been able to make my living and do work that I feel really proud of. To have this level of recognition is very, very new for me. It feels very nice.

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